The restructuring of the energy industry, which is now even more urgent because of the war, the management of climate change, the advancing digitization - the economy will be faced with enormous tasks for a long time.

In order to cope with them, specialists with a very good education in the fields of mathematics, computer science, natural sciences and technology, MINT for short, are needed.

But are they available in sufficient numbers, even in the long term?

The answer depends heavily on the quality of STEM education in (pre-)schools.

This is considered insufficient in many places;

but there are efforts to improve them: the federal states are strengthening the subjects, the economy has launched countless STEM initiatives.

That seems to be paying off.

In Germany, for example, a particularly large number of young people opt for a MINT degree, almost two-fifths of all first-year students.

In addition, the proportion of women among the graduates is increasing and is now around a third, in mathematics even around half.

Despite these successes, too much has hardly gotten off the ground for years and decades.

Even in times of unstoppable digitization, the vast majority of students leave school without basic knowledge of computer science.

Dual MINT training is in crisis: the number of training contracts is falling;

in some technical professions, more than a third will be eliminated again.

In the MINT courses, the dropout and change rate of around 50 percent is still far too high.

And the MINT initiatives for girls are not fruitful in the economically relevant areas of IT and technology.

Better STEM skills start early

MINT skills must be promoted much more strongly across the entire education chain.

In elementary school, MINT must be given an appropriate role in general education, and teachers must be trained in technology and natural sciences.

According to the international comparative study Timss, the performance of German fourth-graders has fallen since 2011;

the group of particularly weak performers has grown to a good quarter.

Germany is thus below the EU and OECD average.

School is particularly important for STEM education;

for most students it takes place almost exclusively there, while language skills are also encouraged in many parents' homes, often on the side.

Mathematics plays a key role in the entire STEM field – unfortunately a problem child that has been around for decades.

Anyone who does not develop a good relationship with mathematics at school will most likely not decide to do an apprenticeship or study in a technical, IT or scientific field.

While the group of mathematics aces is impressively large in some Asian countries, it remains at a few percent in Germany.

At the other end of the scale, about a fifth of ninth graders are so poor at math that STEM education is impossible.

Only a few can study mathematics, but in school most should be able to keep up;

Intelligence is subject to the normal distribution.

Unfortunately, for many, math is a scary subject, which is not only individually painful, but also a waste of resources.

The key lies in better teaching quality.

Researchers and good teachers know what good math teaching is.

He has to get the students thinking so that they really understand the material and not just use formulas superficially.

Tasks from their world of experience have a motivating effect.

The education ministers are aware of the problem

The ministers of education know about the insufficient quality of math lessons across the board, otherwise they would not have launched Quamath, a program that aims to improve quality through teacher networks and further training.

Experts praise the good scientific foundation and support of the program and describe it as a milestone.

Quamath will not bring quick help either;

it is designed to run for ten years and will “only” reach a third of general education schools.

In the meantime, the situation is likely to worsen.

The loss of lessons during the corona pandemic has severely weakened mathematics performance.

And another problem is becoming clearer: the shortage of teachers is particularly great in the STEM subjects.

According to a forecast commissioned by the Telekom Foundation for North Rhine-Westphalia, two-thirds of the new STEM teachers to be hired will be missing by 2030.

The result can be transferred to the whole of Germany.

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